Tips from Preschool Teacher Ireland and oursleves!
- Familiarise yourself with the service – Montessori, play school, Steiner, etc. Have a look through any of the information / booklets / welcome pack they sent you. This will give you a sense of the service.
- Daily Routine – if you have access to the specific daily routine for the preschool, talk this through with your child e.g. hanging coat up, play, snacks, etc. You can practise these skills at home – putting on and taking off coat, putting on wellie boots,etc For a child who is returning for their second year, they will know some of the routines and it will be reassuring for them to know that some of the routines will be the same. Individual preschools will be informing parents of any changes with lunches, snacks, drop off, etc.
- Social Media – check out the preschool website or social media pages. This will give you access to images that will make the place more familiar when they first go. They will see areas of interest, role play areas, sand pit, outdoor area. Encourage them to look and see what they might like to play with when it’s their time to go! Equally, if your child is returning for the second year, it will bring back nice memories and you can discuss days / times they remember playing in certain areas and with certain toys.
- Teachers and Preschool Building – if you haven’t been able to visit the school, ask would they be able to send an image of the teacher or a short video clip. This might help the child to familiarise themselves with the teacher, even though they won’t actually have met them. While your child won’t know them, it will help that they don’t feel like complete strangers. Again, for a child who is returning, there will be comfort in seeing the familiar faces that they haven’t seen in some time! If your child isn’t familiar with the preschool building, taking a drive by the preschool or looking at a photograph can be very helpful so that everything isn’t new and uncertain on that first morning.
- Covid Restrictions – familiarise yourself with the new restrictions. This applies to whether it’s your child’s first or second year there. Each preschool will be putting a lot of thought into the arrangements for drop off and collecting. By everyone complying with the arrangement, it will help for it to be as calm and safe as possible for the children.
- Time Frame – be honest with your child that you are leaving, will do some jobs, and will be back for them. Setting up that expectation and making sure you are back on time is very important. Your child will gain confidence and reassurance from the fact that they knew you were leaving and you did come back as you said.
- Lunch Boxes and School Bags – preschools will have made different decisions on this, but if your child does need a lunch box and bag, make it a fun experience to get one that they like. Give them time to practise opening and closing the lunch box – but of course they will be helped! The bag, if they need one, doesn’t need to fit much, so keep that in mind when choosing it. There will be more discussion about lunches during the week, but maybe be using the next few weeks to see what type of snack they might like, what foods are allowed in the preschool and give your child the opportunity to practise eating from the lunch box. Picnic at the park or beach can be a fun way to do this!
- Label!! – make sure to label everything [stick, iron on or permanent market] This has always been important, but even more so now! Jumpers, pants, underwear, lunch box, scarf, everything! Label and name it all!
- The Day Itself! – let them know in advance when they will be starting, and chat through the expecationation with them – we will get dressed, walk / drive there, chat through the drop off that the preschool will have told you, etc. It is an emotional day, but as the adult, try to keep those emotions in check! The calmer you are, the calmer your child will be. Keep your tears for the car if you can! The kids will have a ball! Acknowledging what’s to come, but not hyping it up too much is always best.
- Trust – Trust in yourself, trust in your child and trust in the preschool. Yourchild will settle in and the preschool staff are fully trained to deal with any emotions that naturally come on that first morning and beyond. The staff are putting in a lot of time and effort to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone.
- Toileting – It’s always best to keep spare underwear and change of clothes in their bag. The teachers will be well used to kids having an accident, whether that’s due to still learning or being caught up in the excitement of a new experience, friends and toys! If you have any concerns with regards to toileting, always talk to the preschool. For children who are only used to a potty, the toilets are lower in preschools which is a big help. Again, talk to the preschool if you’re concerned. And finally, if your child isn’t toilet trained, be sure to discuss this with the preschool in advance of beginning. Different preschools have different policies on this.
We hope you find these tips helpful. If you have any others you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments below.